National Security

Amnesty International demands watchdog review torture claims

Amnesty International is demanding that federal watchdogs investigate the Justice Department’s lack of response to a landmark Senate report accusing the CIA of engaging in torture and misleading its overseers, nine months after the report was issued.

The human rights group on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s inspector general asking it to explore the department’s “inconsistent” reaction to the report.

{mosads}“The effect, if not the purpose, of the Justice Department’s action or inaction has been to evade public accountability and conceal its institutional failures,” Naureen Shah, the head of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights program, said in the 25-page complaint.

“In particular, the Justice Department failed to review evidence in the Senate report of human rights violations and has to date failed to address evidence in the Senate report of the complicity of Justice Department officials and the institutional failure to prevent human rights violations.”

The filing comes months after Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee released a years-in-the-making report slamming the CIA for its George W. Bush-era detention and interrogation program. The program involved keeping suspected militants at foreign “black sites” and subjecting them to “enhanced interrogation techniques” — such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation — that many people consider to be torture. 

An 500-page unclassified executive summary was released to the public in December; the full 6,300-page analysis remains secret.

Senate lawmakers shared copies of the full version with various arms of the Obama administration, but most of them have seemed to ignore it.

In court documents filed in March, for instance, the administration claimed that “neither the Department of Justice nor the Department of States has ever opened” its copies of the report.

FBI Director James Comey told Senate lawmakers at the time that he didn’t even know where his bureau’s copy was. 

However, the Justice Department announced it would not reopen an investigation into the CIA immediately after the Senate report was issued last year, claiming that researchers “did not find any new information” within its pages. That would seem to indicate that they had at least read it. 

In addition to those contradictory statements to the public, the Amnesty International complaint on Tuesday also accuses the Justice Department of failing to review the human rights violations alleged in the report and what role the department itself may have played.

“These failures suggest an unwillingness to reckon with the Justice Department’s recent history,” Shah wrote in the complaint. “The effect is that the Justice Department is leaving the door open to possible future involvement in human rights violations including torture.” 

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